Review: Punk Rock Jesus / Author: Sean Murphy / Artist: Sean Murphy / Publisher : Vertigo / Release Date: April 16th
Punk Rock Jesus is one of those tales with a crazy premise that actually works. In the near future, an opportunistic businessman purchases the Turin Shroud in order to extract enough DNA from it to create a clone of Jesus Christ. This clone is to be born naturally, and the entire thing is to be broadcast on a reality TV show. Add into the mix a crusading scientist, a terrorist-murderer who is looking for redemption and a pet polar bear, and we have one of the oddest books of the year that also happens to be a great read.
Though it takes a good long while to get going, this is a book where the alleged clone of Jesus runs round sporting a mohawk, singing punk-rock songs and quoting anarchist heroes. The reason the book works is because it really does wear its heart on its sleeve; though it never claims the main character actually is the Second Coming, it does explore the humanity and kindness that make up the core principles of Christianity. It also looks at how mankind has twisted those ideas, and how blind faith can lead to tragic consequences.
The artwork is strong here; Murphy is both writer and artist, and the drawings are messy and punk in tone. This helps create a rebellious vibe. Murphy also has quite the talent for depicting violence and there’s no shortage of that here, though it is a little bit too reliant of big men driving big motorbikes to deliver cinematic sequences.
This is a heavily political book, as you might be able to guess from the title, and though it is in your face and confrontational, it still serves as an interesting meditation on the nature of commercialisation and religion. Second Coming stories are fairly common, but this one throws multiple approaches to faith into the mix, creating an engaging storyline that is both sympathetic and thought provoking. Though they are some shocking elements here, it never goes out of its way to simple offend the reader for the sake of it; ultimately this is book about people making up their own mind, and it understands that it is up to the reader to do the same.